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Archive for Wednesday, September 9, 1992

ALCOHOL BAN UNDERGOES FIRST TEST WITH KU FOOTBALL FANS

September 9, 1992

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Were Jim Denney to wear a snap-brim hat, carry a Thompson submachine gun and drive a Ford Model A on Saturday, his appearance would fit comfortably with his task.

Were he to wear a black hat, kick dogs and snatch toys out of the hands of children, he would fit the image he knows some people will have of him on Saturday.

For the first time since the 1930s, fans who attend a Kansas University football home opener will be prohibited from possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages. And Denney, KU police director, will become a modern-day Eliot Ness, complete with a squad of "Untouchables."

But don't look for police to enforce the ban with billy clubs and bullets. Instead, Denney said, the department's 35 officers will do the same thing they've always done: Ask a violator to knock it off.

"Number 1, we're going to advise people that it's against the law," he said. "Number 2, we're going to ask them to dispose of it either by locking it in the car or by pouring it out. And if they refuse, we'll tell them that they can either take their booze and leave or they can get arrested.

"It's their choice."

WHAT'S NOT a KU fan's choice anymore is whether to drink any alcoholic beverage at a game, and that includes on the Campanile Hill, in the stadium or in a parking lot.

Denney said that since the early '80s, "alcoholic liquor" which includes hard liquor, wine and beer with an alcohol content of more than 3.2 percent has been banned. Last November, the university removed the 3.2 percent loophole in its alcohol policy by limiting consumption of all alcoholic beverages to restricted areas, such as Kansas Union restaurants.

And in March, Lawrence city commissioners passed an ordinance banning possession or consumption of an open container of cereal malt beverage and liquor in public places at KU. That law added teeth to the university policy by giving KU police the option of citing someone who didn't comply with a request to follow university code.

When KU police began enforcing the newly revised university code last year, fans who wanted to drink got frothy. Newspaper stories about the crackdown were filled with negative comments from KU game-goers.

THE NEW enforcement policy apparently hasn't gone down as smoothly as a shot of Kentucky bourbon in the athletic department, either. KU When asked his opinion Tuesday, Athletic Director Bob Frederick expressed regret about the policy change.

"We're obviously going to support what the change is," he said. "It's unfortunate when we have to pass a rule or a law to target a small group of violators to the detriment of others who were peacefully enjoying their pre-game activities."

Denney has heard the same types of comments, and during an interview Tuesday he made it clear that the increase in enforcement stemmed from complaints from the public about alcohol-related problems.

He said police are not aiming at a fan who has a couple of beers during a game. Rather, he said, officers want to stop the type of drinking that results in fans' "standing up in front of a crowd of 10,000 people and urinating, or standing in the middle of a crowd of 10,000 people and throwing up on your neighbor."

DENNEY SAID he also has heard complaints that the laws are not enforced uniformly.

"There are various groups saying . . . this is just to get a particular group of students, this is just to get a particular group of alumni," he said. "The answer to that is, no, it's not. We've had problems among various groups after NCAA (basketball) games, we've had problems at game celebrations, we've had problems at commencement."

To help things go smoothly, police and university officials have taken various steps to inform fans about the coming changes.

Frederick said the athletic department worked with the alumni association to publish information about the new ordinance in the latest alumni magazine. Denney said officers will hand out informational cards.

ASKED WHAT reaction he expected Saturday, Denney said: "I would hope there's been enough publicity . . . that the adults of this community will react like the good citizens they are."

If not, the "Untouchables" won't back down.

"If education doesn't work, and if voluntary compliance isn't obtained, our officers have been informed that we'll be giving citations," he said. "And we've also told them that if they touch you, take 'em to jail."

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